Dr Marc Davies

Dr Marc Davies

Senior Technician (Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry)

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


My role is to lead and manage the delivery and continuous development of stable isotope mass spectrometry and related geochemistry facilities within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. This involves supporting teaching and research through technique development, and the management, maintenance, and running of analytical instruments. Currently, our instruments include an IsoPrimeMultiflow and an Elementar vario MICRO CHNOS Elemental Analyser, both linked to a GV Instruments IsoPrime Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer, so we are able to measure concentrations and isotopic ratios of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen,oxygen and sulphur in a range of environmental samples.


PhD Isotope Geochemistry, The Open University. 

PGCE (Geography), London University Institute of Education

MSc / DIC  Mineral Exploration, Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London. 

BSc (Hons) Geography &Geology, College of St. Paul and St. Mary, Cheltenham 

Teaching interests

1991 - 2000 - Geography,and Environmental Science in Further Education

2002 - 2011 - Field and laboratory teaching on Open University residential field schools, including The Geological History of the British Isles (SXR260), and Mountain Building in Scotland (SXR339)

2008 - 2009 - Associate Lecturer for level 3 module, Understanding the Continents (S339), at the Open University

I currently train and supervise MSc and PhD students using the stable isotope analytical facilities.

Research interests

I have considerable experience of working with a range of analytical instrumentation, and over the last fifteen years or so this has been heavily focused on the acquisition of high-precision isotope ratios for various aspects of Earth science research including mantle geochemistry, ocean oxygenation and palaeoclimate change.

Initially, following my Master’s degree, I worked as an analytical geochemist for the British Geological Survey and as a research technician with the fission track research groups at University College London, the University of Melbourne and the University of La Trobe, Australia. After teaching geography and environmental science for nine years in further education thereafter my interest in igneous petrology and geochemistry encouraged me to return to research and complete a PhD in isotope geochemistry at the Open University.

My PhD focused on the role of mantle plumes in continental breakup and the formation of large igneous provinces, and on the possibility that mantle plumes may be sourced at the core-mantle boundary. I used rhenium-osmium and noble gas isotopes alongside major and trace element analyses to constrain the source and petrogenesis of the Ethiopian flood basalts. My interest in palaeoenvironmental change stemmed from this research through exploring the relationships between the emplacement of large igneous provinces, palaeoclimatic perturbations and mass extinctions. I have since been involved in generating high resolution isotopic data for successions of organic-rich mudrocks and carbonates (including foraminifera, bivalve shells and calcareous sediments) to reveal variations in palaeocean chemistry that might clarify such relationships. For this work I have used a range of analytical instruments including ICPMS for trace elements, MC-ICPMS for Re,Mo and U isotopes, TIMS for Os and Sr isotopes, and IRMS for stable C and O isotopes.

Just prior to moving to Plymouth, I worked on a NERC-funded project entitled, Response of Global Ocean Oxygenation to Early Cenozoic Climate Extremes (RESPIRE) at the Open University in Milton Keynes. This work is still ongoing, and its primary aim is to generate a composite multi-proxy reconstruction of global oxygenation through the Cenozoic (56 - 25 Ma) by determining the major and trace element, and stable Mo, U and Re, and Re-Os isotopic compositions of past seawater from the analysis of marine sediments from the Arctic Ocean and Central Europe.

I am keen to continue similar Palaeoclimate research, and to develop a range of analytical techniques that will enable us to extend and refine our isotopic inventory for this purpose.

Journal Articles

Dickson, A.J., Cohen, A.S., Coe, A.L., Davies, M., Shcherbinina, E. and Gavrilov, Y. (2015), Evidence for weathering and volcanism during the PETM from Arctic Ocean and Peri-Tethys osmium isotope records, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 438,300-307.

Rogers, N.W., Davies M.K., Parkinson I.J., Yirgu G. (2010), Osmium isotopes and Fe/Mn ratios in Ti-rich picritic basalts from the Ethiopian flood basalt province: No evidence for core contribution to the Afar plume, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 296 413–422

Davies, M. (2004) A curate’s egg: beyond the plume hypothesis – a student’s eye view of the Penrose Conference,Geoscientist, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan. 2004) - also published in West Australian Geologist, No. 437, April (2004)


Conference  Abstracts

Bagard, M-L., Dickson, A., Davies, M. & Cohen, A., Global Seawater Oxygenation during the Eocene: New Constraints from Molybdenum and Uranium Isotopes, 26th Goldschmidt Conference, Yokohama, June (2016)

Percival, L., Cohen, A., Davies, M., Dickson, A., Jenkyns, H., Hesselbo, S., Mather, T., Xu, W., and Storm, M., Osmium isotope perturbations during the Pliensbachian–Toarcian (Early Jurassic): Relationships between volcanism, weathering, and climate change, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 18, EGU2016-13046, 2016, EGU General Assembly (2016)

Stuart, F., Rogers, N. and Davies, M., The He isotope composition of the earliest picrites erupted by the Ethiopia plume, implications for mantle plume source, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 18, EGU2016-17009, EGU General Assembly (2016)

Bagard, M.-L., Dickson, A. J.,Davies, M. K. and Cohen, A. S., Evaluating δ238/235U records in mudrocks as a proxy for ocean oxygenation during the Early Eocene, Goldschmidt Abstracts, 2015, article no. 172 (2015)

Bagard, M-L., Davies, M., Dickson, A. J. and Cohen, A.S., Multi proxy reconstruction (δ98/95Mo, δ238/235U) of global ocean oxygenation during the Early Eocene, AGU Fall Meeting , December 2014, San Francisco, CA, USA (2014)

Stuart, F. M. Rogers, N., Parkinson, I. Davies, M., Constraints on the source of mantle plumes from the geochemistry of the first picrites erupted, Ethiopian flood basalt province,EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, April (2012)

Fehr, M., Izon, G., Dickson, A., Davies, M., Cohen, A., Rhenium concentration and isotopic analysis by MC-ICPMS, European Winter Conference on Plasma Spectrochemistry, Zaragoza February (2011)

Cohen, A.S. Saunders, A., Zhang, H. Li, J. Davies, M.K., Variations in Os- and Mo-isotope compositions and trace element abundances across the Permo-Triassic boundary, Meishan, China:Proxy evidence for large-scale oceanic anoxia?  American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting (2009)

Parkinson, I.J., Rogers, N.W., Davies, M.K. and Yirgu, G., Mantle Plumes: ambiguous messengers from the deep mantle, William Smith Meeting, The Deep Earth: The structure and evolution of the interior of our planet, Geological Society of London, November (2005)

Davies, M., Parkinson, I.J. and Rogers, N.W., The origin of high-Ti picrites from the Ethiopian flood basalt province, Penrose Conference - Plume IV: Beyond the Plume Hypothesis, Hveragerdi, Iceland, GSA, August (2003)

Davies, M., Parkinson, I.J. and Rogers, N.W., The origin of high-Ti picrites from the Ethiopian flood basalt province, Mantle plumes: Physical processes, chemical signatures,biological effects, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, September (2003)

Davies, M., Parkinson, I.J. and Rogers, N.W., Does the core contribute to deep mantle sourced plumes? EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, Nice, France, April (2003)

Rogers, N.W., Davies, M., Parkinson, I.J. and Yirgu, G., Contrasting geochemistry of basalts from the Afar and East African mantle plumes, EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, Nice,France, April (2003)

Davies, M., Rogers, N.W. and Parkinson, I.J., High-Ti picrites from the Ethiopian Plateau, Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group Annual Meeting (Part II), University of Edinburgh,December (2002)

Davies, M., Parkinson, I.J. and Rogers, N.W., Picrites and ferro-picrites from the Ethiopian Plateau:possible origin at the core mantle boundary, Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group Annual, University College London, January (2002)